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Answers to Poverty

Answers to Poverty

There’s no point saying to someone with little to no education “Just get a well-paid job and you’ll be fine!” What we need to do is ensure that as children, (poor) people are educated and given the same opportunities as everyone else. Then, as a grown-up, they may actually be able to get that well-paid job.

You can’t lift families out of poverty and “welfare dependency” by telling them to get jobs. You have to put money and effort into the system to ensure all people have opportunities for education and employment later in life.

We also need to acknowledge that people contribute to society in many ways and that a ‘well-paid job’ isn’t the be-all and end-all. Some jobs give you a sense of well-being and accomplishment, knowing that you are helping society. Some jobs give you the flexibility to do other things you want in life. Some jobs, like parenting, are unpaid. Some people can’t work due to physical or mental disabilities (many can if enough options and the right attitudes are available from employers) but may contribute to society in ways that are often ignored. Some people help us out by being a good friend, by giving a hug or a smile to someone, by being a good example or offering wise words of advice, by inviting you in for a cuppa or making you feel worthwhile. Some people contribute to society with gardening, handy skills or artwork. All of these things are important parts of the machine that up our community. Without them, it would not run as smoothly.

I get quite sick of the assumption that a paying job is what everyone needs and will solve all your problems. For a start there are just not enough jobs for all the people.

From a different perspective, all people are unique and have different needs and way of living life. We need to function as a community, as a country; if we do not ensure there is financial support for the poor, what sort of people are we? Our society will suffer in the short and long term from that sort of treatment. What society needs is a change in attitude about poverty, poor people, beneficiaries, people with disabilities, parents, and anyone deemed as ‘different’. Once we change this attitude, everyone will see that there needs to be sufficient benefit levels for those who have no other form of income support.

Helping people out of poverty is not only the right thing to do, but will save lives and money in the long-term. Replacing selfish behaviour and greed with more caring and sharing will save the day. Once we see it is (not just our duty but) our privilege to help others when they need it, we can be happier as a people that we have done the right thing for a richer (culturally, financially & spiritually) country.

Beneficiary Advisory Service is a Christchurch based Community Group who help people on benefits and low incomes with their problems with Work and Income. We are specialists in Welfare Law and provide advice, information, support and advocacy to hundreds of people every year. We can be contacted on 03 379 8787 and bas.cprc@gmail.com or visit our website bas.org.nz


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